Imagine That! and Future Tech founder Kelly Williams has always loved science and art—up until her children were toddlers, she had spent her life building a career as an environmental engineer working for the EPA. But when she began volunteering as a leader of art and science programs at her local church and school, she unexpectedly discovered that she loved teaching children even more. Since 1995, Imagine That! and Future Tech learning centers have fostered a passion for science and technology in students aged 3 through 14. Alongside hands-on, age-appropriate instruction in the basics of physics, chemistry, and simple machines, the kids learn to work futuristic wonders such as building and programming robots to navigate obstacle courses and follow instructions. Science camps and workshops at locations all over the Atlanta metropolitan area give children a firm foundation in the sciences and prepare them for tomorrow’s world of ever-more-advanced computers and automatic doors.
Brightly colored bowling balls careen down slick lanes, colliding with upright pins that spill over in a cacophony of satisfying crashes. Despite the help of bumpers and a last-second push from the tooth fairy, the 6-year-old who rolled the ball couldn't be more proud of his first strike. Up to eight guests can share a lane at Suburban Lanes' family-friendly facility, splitting time between cathartic bowling matches and the plethora of games in the arcade, including Ms. Pac-Man, Whack A Duck, and skee ball. On weekends, guests stay late to indulge in the black lights and neon colors of cosmic bowling, sipping on draft glasses of Shock Top, Magic Hat, or Pabst Blue Ribbon and sharing snacks of pizza, chicken tenders, or funnel cakes. Bowlers can get serious about their hatred of gutter balls by joining a league or competing in a tournament, with youngsters starting their bowling careers early in youth leagues or summer camps.
Atlanta Rocks' expansive vertical playground is home to hundreds of climbs, 50 top-rope stations, and more than 12,000 square feet of professionally set routes atop a safe climbing surface. All passionate climbers themselves, the staff has created interesting and intricate problems to solve for climbers of all skill levels. Climbers looking to enhance their know how can participate in one of the gym?s many programs, and the staff also drops knowledge on beginners with introductory climbing courses that include all required gear and cover subjects ranging from advanced lead climbing to the fundamentals of massaging knots out of tense rope.
Gleaming bowling balls rumble down 40 polished wooden lanes at Junction Lanes Family Entertainment Center, where clusters of bowlers lace up multicolored kicks and spend an hour waltzing to the tune of clattering pins. On weekends, regular lights and just-whitened smiles give way to the black lights, strobe lights, disco balls, and rousing music of cosmic bowling.
Mini golfers can head over to Treasure Cove, an 18-hole course awash in neon obstacles and vivid oceanic murals. Pirate ships, buried treasure, and creatures of the deep enliven the underwater-adventure-themed course.
At The Depot Grill, players sink teeth into piping-hot pizzas from Buchi Z Pizza, creamy scoops of Bruster?s Ice Cream, or steaming buns loaded with Nathan?s Famous hot dogs. This sustenance shores up gamers so they can hone their reflexes at the arcade.
At Pirates Cove Adventure Golf, 27 challenging holes test the putting skills of players of all ages while steeping them in 18th-century pirate lore. As balls bank off rails and roll between obstacles such as boulders, the greens wind past colorful flower gardens under shady evergreens and a towering pirate ship. Throughout the course, a waterfall cascades into a stream that flows under wooden bridges, recalling how Blackbeard made his prisoners slowly walk the plank before doing a cannonball, for everyone's safety.
At Great Play, kids are encouraged to break bottles—virtual ones, arranged on virtual shelves—in the center’s Interactive Arena. They are part of a hand-eye coordination game for kids, in which sensors track their “throws” and the computer-generated bottles projected onto the walls fall accordingly. Another version sees kids honing their throwing arms by aiming for an animated strike zone while a simulated crowd cheers.
But regardless of the specific games kids play on any given day in the 3,000-square-foot arena, each activity hews to the play center’s overall goal: to build kids’ motor skills and athletic abilities from an early age. Programs for younger kids focus on fundamentals, such as running, skipping, dodging, and tumbling. Meanwhile, athletic camps for older kids build skillsets that come in handy during pick-up games on the playground or at their first Olympic trials at age 3.